Word from the Ambassador - Richard Washington
Poland’s contribution to the world is so rich and varied I am continuously staggered by it. Not least because, to my shame, I was quite ignorant of it in the past.
Unfortunately my previous ignorance is not unusual. Many outside Poland know little of its heritage, achievements and its heroes.
That’s why this project is so important.
During the more than 1000 years of Poland’s existence, many truly great Poles, of all branches of human creativity, have inspired, revolutionised, sustained, charmed, entertained, moved and cured millions, even billions of their fellow human beings.
Yet, their contribution is often overlooked or misunderstood. With Poland itself invaded and controlled by others for most of the period from 1795 until 1989, many great Poles were not even recognised as such.
Just to take one example: my own personal hero, Maria Skłodowska-Curie. One of the greatest Poles in history, but many outside Poland labour under the impression that she was French. They would be amazed to come to Warsaw and discover that it was here that she grew up, here she developed her talents, here that she celebrated her greatest triumphs and here where her spiritual heart remained. They would be perhaps shocked to learn of her real name and origins.
This must change.
And it will. Why? Because there is now a generation of young, well educated, open-minded, thoughtful and creative Poles who have at last grown up in freedom.
In creating this website, some of these young Poles have been inspired to pay their respects to the past and present heroes of their nation. Heroes have made it possible for them to enjoy the freedoms and possibilities they now have. They are driven by a powerful desire to change perceptions among foreigners and in the Polish diaspora.
This project will grow and develop, with new groups of young people joining it, so that it will become a reference for those wanting to find out about some of Poland’s most important contributors.
I am therefore very proud and humbled to be acting as Ambassador for this project.
Here’s to all the great young people working on it and, most of all, to the Great Poles and the great country they are honouring!
Poland and the Polish People have undergone great trials in our human history. Throughout their suffering and endurance, their people have been great beacons: beacons of learning, sacrifice and contribution. They have fought for a better future for their fellow Man. They have fought for their country to be restored and for independence across the lands. They have fought, so that others should not have to fight again. When they lost everything, they started anew. Their indomitable spirit is something that has inspired millions, and so it shall again with this fantastic initiative GreatPoles.
It is fascinating to see a new generation begin to define its own notion of greatness. I look forward to reading as accounts of the past are explored and new brief biographies are added to this site. By doing so I expect to be reminded about great Poles of the past, and to learn something more about today’s young Poles.
Dr John Fells
Academic Director of the Graduate School for Social Research at IFiS PAN